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Chickpea (Garbanzo beans) Soup

Posted Dec 12 2008 2:53pm
Chickpeas -- this is another childhood favorite. I love all forms of chickpeas and there are quite a few -- the small dried black chana, the green dried chana, the regular sized chana, the large and flavorful Kabuli chana. You can bake them, you can sprout them, you can cook them in dry and wet gravies; they are versatile.

Chickpeas are rich in fiber. This is evident at the way gravies thicken after cooking chickpeas, because of the soluble fiber. They are said make great weight-loss food and the fibers help lower cholesterol in the blood. In addition, the fiber prevents large amount of glucose in the meal from being released into the bloodstream. So it is beneficial to include this item in a diabetic meal.

Aside from fiber, chickpeas contain good quality protein and minerals such as iron, phosphorus and copper, folates and magnesium. Most importantly, it is rich in a trace element called molybdenum. This mineral helps regulate the pH balance of the body, which directly influences body metabolism, especially of fat and carbohydrate. This mineral is also important cofactor in the enzyme system of the body, enabling the body to eliminate toxic nitrogen waste by converting it into the less harmful uric acid that is then removed by the body more easily. The mineral also enhances a sense of wellbeing. It is also said to detoxify the body of sulfites, which are preservatives used in wine, salads and other food items. Like most minerals, however, it is required only in trace amounts in the body. For a more detailed nutritional outlook on chickpeas, clickhere.

Chickpea soup is a recipe I tried out recently. I used the large Kabuli chana for this because this variety of chickpeas has a lovely nutty flavor that is pretty strong. This is how I made the soup:

Precooked chickpeas are available canned in western supermarkets. I don't use canned food. I prefer to buy and store dried beans and use as required. In such a case, dried chickpeas need to be soaked for several hours, eight hours at least; so some planning is required but worth it. I soaked about one large cup of chickpeas overnight. I placed them in my pressure cooker, covering them with sufficient water and cooked them on low heat to two whistles. I let this cool down to room temperature.

Meanwhile, I finely chopped one large onion, one green chilli and an inch of ginger. In a pan, I heated a spoon of oil and fried a teaspoon of cumin seeds till golden brown. I added the chopped chilli and ginger. After sizzling this in oil for a bit, I added the chopped onions and fried it till it turned a transparent pink. I then added the chickpeas together with the leftover water and some salt and simmered this for five minutes till it absorbed the salt. I then allowed this to cool.

Once cool, I pureed this. It should not be too smooth, the texture should be nubbly with small chunks of onion and chickpeas still present. I poured this puree into a pan, added requisite pepper and dried parsley for taste. I also added water to give more flow to the soup; it should have a creaminess but not too thick. I simmered this on low heat for some minutes. Once the flavors seemed to have diffused within the soup, I switched off the stove.

I served this hot. The best garnish for this is with toasted whole wheat croutons. Croutons enhance the taste of the soup multifold.

We had this with sandwiches but found it quite heavy, so I think the best combination would be just a simple toast or garlic bread as accompaniment to the soup.

This soup can be very filling. It is very nutritious and great for a light supper, a minimeal in itself. For diabetics, the chickpea has one of the lowest glycemic index and glycemic load among food groups; so the benefit is quite obvious.

Don't let the excuse of having to plan a dish made of chickpeas or beans overcome you. It is a very necessary part of your overall nutrition.

This is my entry for the What's Your Favorite:Salad/Starters/SoupsEvent hosted by Easycrafts for the month of September.

Updated October 6th, 2008:
For the delightful roundup of What's Your Favorite: Salad/Starters/Soups, clickhere.
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